25 May 2021
In Memoriam – Max Mosley

Road safety champion, philanthropist and founding Chairman of Global NCAP, Max Mosley has died at 81 following a long battle with cancer

Max graduated from Oxford with a physics degree in 1961 and was called to the English Bar in 1964, practising as a barrister for five years in London. He was a successful amateur racing driver and in 1969, he co-founded March Engineering, which quickly became one of the world’s leading racing car manufacturers.

He was president from 1993 to 2009 of the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile). Throughout his Presidency he led on the most important developments in the regulation and safety of international motorsport. He was also a strong advocate for the transfer of knowledge and scientific thinking from motorsport in the improvement of road safety and sustainable mobility. The safe system Vision Zero approach, described by the FIA as Formula Zero, guided much of the FIA’s thinking under Max’s leadership.

After a successful FIA led campaign lobbying for new EU crash test legislation, Max became the founding Chairman of the European New Car Assessment Programme in 1997. Euro NCAP introduced the independent crash testing of new cars at levels well beyond minimum regulatory requirements. Despite initial hostility from sections of the auto industry, Euro NCAP became a powerful catalyst for safety design improvements, saving many tens of thousands of lives, in what the European Commission described as the most cost-effective road safety initiative of the last 20 years.

During his presidency of the FIA, Max secured a $300 million donation to establish the FIA Foundation, a global philanthropy campaigning for safer, cleaner and more sustainable mobility. In 2004 he also helped found the FIA and FIA Foundation sister organisation, the FIA Institute for Motorsport Safety and Sustainability under the Presidency of Professor Sid Watkins.

More recently Max was the founding chairman of Global NCAP, the umbrella organisation for all crash testing programmes world-wide. Global NCAP has helped transform vehicle safety performance in low and middle income countries through crash test programmes in Latin America (Latin NCAP), Asia (ASEAN NCAP), India and more recently in Africa.

Max retired from his Global NCAP Chairmanship in 2017 but remained an active campaigner and advocate for road safety, particularly through his support for the work of the Towards Zero Foundation.

In a media interview conducted a decade ago, Max was asked about his legacy as FIA President. He gave the following reply:

“The thing about F1 is that you can make a huge effort there and you maybe save one life every five years. Whereas on the roads, it’s literally thousands of people.

“If I’m still alive when I’m 80, I’d like to be able to sit down and think I really made a difference, and there are a lot of people walking around hale and hearty who would not have been if I hadn’t made the effort. If I can say that to myself, I’d be very pleased.”

Condolence letters should be sent to the Mosley family care of Payne Hicks Beach, 10 New Square, London WC2A 3QG.